Policeman recovering after shooting

By Lisa Treiber-Walter —

Fredericksburg Police Department (FPD) Patrolman Bradley Durst has seen daily progress in his recovery after being shot twice during a routine traffic stop in the early morning hours on Saturday, April 19.

Arrested for shooting Durst and for firing his weapon at other law enforcement officers during a multi-county car chase was Robert Adrian Rendon, 31, of San Angelo. (A man with the same name who lives in Fredericksburg is not connected with this incident.) Rendon crashed his car in San Antonio just before being taken into custody.

As of Tuesday, April 22, Rendon remained in Bexar County Jail facing the following charges and these related bond amounts:

• 1 charge of attempted capital murder of a police officer for the Fredericksburg shooting, $1 million bond;

• 3 counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer, $750,000 bond ($250,000 for each charge);

• 1 count of evading with a vehicle, $100,000; and,

• 1 possession of methamphetamine, $100,000.

There were also two existing warrants out for Rendon’s arrest: one for a parole violation for possession of controlled substance – methamphetamine, 1-4 grams, issued Oct. 21, 2013, out of Tom Green County, and another for evading arrest with a vehicle, issued on Dec. 16, 2013, also issued out of Tom Green County.

Rendon has reportedly been arrested six other times in the San Angelo area for various charges, ranging from drug offenses to thefts and more, according to FPD Detective Terry Weed.

Rendon’s violent actions, fleeing the scene and his possession of an assault rifle with extra magazines in the vehicle with him indicated that he didn’t intend to return to jail, Weed said.

Night duty

The 29-year-old FPD patrolman had volunteered to work a final night shift before switching to daytime duty when he pulled over a red-colored 2009 Chevrolet Impala in the 1600 block of East Main Street — on the south side of the street directly in front of the Gillespie County Law Enforcement Center, Weed said.

As is procedure, he called in the vehicle’s license plate number first.

“Just as he exited his patrol vehicle to make contact with the driver … I don’t think Bradley had even gotten close to the car,” Weed said. “The guy just reached out and fired off however many rounds he did at him,” using a high-caliber semi-automatic handgun.

Durst took a round in the lower-right abdomen and another to the right side of his neck. But he was able to radio for medical aid for himself and for fellow officers to pursue Rendon, who was speeding away.

Durst was reportedly wearing body armor, but the bullet that struck his torso somehow made its way between the fabric and into Durst’s abdomen.

Officer response

Weed said at the time of the traffic stop, Rendon had a front-right passenger, Tanya Flores Escobedo, 32, also of San Angelo, who was riding with Rendon under her own free will.

She exited the vehicle, however, at some point between the Fredericksburg stop and Rendon’s chase-ending crash in San Antonio, Weed said.

Rendon and Escobedo had reportedly been staying in Fredericksburg for a brief visit, having checked into a local motel around 9 p.m. Friday night, April 18.

First to the scene of the shooting were Gillespie County Sheriff’s Office deputy Hilario Villa and first responder Frank Stead, who recognized the urgency of the situation and helped Durst into the deputy’s car. Durst was then driven to Hill Country Memorial’s emergency room.

The injured officer was in critical condition as he was transported by helicopter medics to San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Durst underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder and repair damage to his liver and neck caused by the gunshot wounds.

Chase

His fellow officers began in pursuit of Rendon’s vehicle, responding to radio requests broadcast to surrounding counties.

Rendon was spotted traveling on U.S. Highway 281, through neighboring Comal County, and into Bexar County. Multiple law enforcement agencies were in pursuit of the vehicle, continuing along through several counties.

Rendon was driving erratically, attempting to elude officers and firing his weapon at them.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus was reported saying, “One of our lieutenants waited until we were in a less populated area. When the backdrop was good, he allowed the officers to return fire.”

Rendon was not hit by gunfire, but he wrecked his car at approximately 4:07 a.m. near Interstate 10 and Ackerman Road in east San Antonio.

Rendon was taken into custody, transported to a hospital, treated for minor, non-life-threatening injuries and then processed into the Bexar County Jail.

“There was quite a bit of thought and planning put into where we would fire back at the vehicle. Because, apparently, this individual was not going to be stopped or taken peacefully,” McManus told WOAI.

Durst recovery

Weed said Durst has been with the Fredericksburg Police Department for the past 2.5 years, also having served more than two years before as a game warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“We’d like to recognize Officer Durst and his courage, what he has accomplished during his tenure with the city and, more importantly, what he will accomplish in the future because he will be coming back to work,” City of Fredericksburg Manager Kent Myers told city officials during the council meeting on Monday night.

“There will be a recovery period and it will be a number of months, but, fortunately, he will be coming back to work to serve our community for many years in the future,” Myers said. “We want to recognize all officers for putting their lives at stake when they go out on a daily basis. In addition, with calls like we had this weekend, it requires a lot of support services.”

“We want to recognize all the different agencies who assisted us with the call this weekend, in particular, one of our first responders with the city, Frank Stead. Frank was very instrumental in making sure that the officer received immediate medical care,” Myers said. “We also had Deputy Hilario Villa who was instrumental and was actually the first officer on the scene and was very helpful in handling the injury.”

“Fortunately, it has been a favorable outcome. It could have been a lot worse,” Myers added.

From the family…

As of yesterday, Fredericksburg Police Department Patrolman Bradley Durst had been moved out of the intensive care unit and into a private room to continue recuperating from two gunshot wounds he suffered in the line of duty.

“We are so humbled and blessed by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from family, friends, the community and law enforcement agencies throughout the state,” said his wife, Brittany (Geistweidt) Durst.

“Each day, we are astounded at the countless displays of love that are showered upon us. We have certainly been surrounded by a multitude of angels. The healing power of each and every prayer for Bradley was and continues to be undoubtedly apparent, as doctors and caregivers continue to express their amazement at the miracle of Bradley’s recovery,” she said.

“We will never be able to express the depth of our gratitude,” Durst added.

Aid the officer…

A benefit fund has been established to assist Fredericksburg Police Department Patrolman Bradley Durst, his wife, Brittany, and their son, with financial needs during his recovery from gunshot wounds suffered in the line of duty.

Those who would like to donate funds are asked to send checks, with a note designating the contribution specifically for “Bradley and Brittany Durst” to: American Bank of Texas, P.O. Box 1909, Fredericksburg, TX 78624.

A bank spokesman said that, in abiding with the ethics-based rules related to law enforcement officers and the acceptance of private donations, the bank will ensure that the family receives all contributions as “anonymous donations.”

Although this will preclude the family from thanking donors individually, it also prevents future accusations of mispropriety during his service on the force, she said.

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